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Blu-Ray Movie Review: MONEYBALL Starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill

Thursday, 15 November 2012

My latest LOVEFiLM rental landed through the door earlier in the week and it’s a movie which has been sitting on my “to watch” list for quite some time now, Moneyball, the story of pro Baseball team the Oakland A’s and their general manager Billy Beane.  There are a couple of reasons I wanted to watch this movie which I will get into below but just in case you get bored before then, you should know that the main reason is because the Oakland A’s have a very similar policy to my team Newcastle United in how they scout players with future sustainability in mind.

Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt and Kerris Dorsey

The Plot

Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane the general manager of the Oakland A’s Baseball team, the movie picks up in the last game of the pro league 2001 season when the New York Yankees beat them in the World Series (I think). We then roll into the 2002 season with Beane loosing his star players and having to start from scratch in building up another team on a wage budget which is nowhere near big enough to compete with the teams at the top. Beane decides that conventional scouting methods are no longer working and after his latest attempt at a signing goes awry he employs Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) as his assistant general manager, stops listening to what the scouts are telling him and drafts players based on statistics. This leads to the Oakland A’s equalling the record of the most consecutive games won by any pro league Baseball team.

The Verdict

I have to be honest here, Moneyball is not generally the type of movie that I’d watch, a heavy drama with a lot of dialogue, not that I mind that I just think sometimes when a film is over two hours long I may get a little bored of sitting watching people talking. There are a couple of reasons I wanted to watch Moneyball, first off was the story, a very similar one in sporting terms to that of the football club I support in England. Newcastle United have done a very similar thing to the Oakland A’s Baseball team, not in using statistics to pick players but deciding on developing their own players as well as scouting out talent on the cheap that can be sold on for profit in future seasons.

I knew very little about what the Oakland A’s and their general manager Billy Beane (Bard Pitt) had done or achieved, that’s mainly due to the fact that I know absolutely nothing about the sport of Baseball, one of my old bosses went to see a Baseball game when he was in America, he told me if I ever wanted to be bored stiff for three hours then Baseball was a sure fired way of making that happen. I read the story of the Oakland A’s when the movie was due for release and I posted the trailer, right then I could see similarities between what they had done and what Newcastle United were doing. Objective achieved on both sides of the pond I suppose because Oakland A’s are now the model of how a pro league Baseball team should be run, same goes for Newcastle United. Other clubs in both professions are looking to adopt models set up by either club in order to obtain financial sustainability and a degree of success on the pitch.

As for the movie, I have to say I enjoyed it, I was toying with the idea of not watching it but decided to give it a go, before I knew it I was nearly an hour in. We all know Brad Pitt can act but it’s a while since I’ve watched him in anything and I have to say I was very impressed with his ability, even when just sitting in silence on the screen he really put across the stress he was going through, it was delivered brilliantly by Pitt who done an outstanding job of displaying a character who could at first see things unravelling before his eyes whilst at the same time remaining confident to his doubters, most notably the Oakland A’s manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who again done a brilliant job with his character, but even at the conclusion of the movie with the success the team have had he still does not agree with using statistics to draft players.

A massive nod is due here for Jonah Hill who plays Peter Brand in the movie, the Oakland A’s assistant general manager, a Yale graduate who designed the computer program that would statistically analyse every Baseball player in the league. Apparently getting on 1st base is important, I have no idea what that means but clearly this young kid did. Jonah Hill is well known for playing hilarious comedy roles, which of course he is very good at but you have to take your hat off to the guy here as he proves that his acting ability goes far beyond that of a funny man portrayed in movies like Knocked Up.

I’d say that Moneyball can be enjoyed whether you’re a Baseball fan or not, clearly I’m not but the movie is based more on the characters, the dialogue and how the stresses took their toll before ultimately paying off in the long run. It should probably be noted that the Oakland A’s are yet to win the World Series in Baseball but the Boston Red Sox, who adopted their policy and offered Billy Beane $12.5m (which he turned down) to help them implement his model have now gone on to win the World Series. I only hope it pays off for Newcastle United and we go and win the Premier League, what do you think fellow Geordies?

Would I watch it again?

I’d have to say that I would be looking at other more action/thriller type movie options first, although the story and acting from all involved was very good, it was pretty tough going at over two hours long.

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